Potentially Even Bigger Feral Cats to be Imported into Australia

Feral cats, along with wild dogs and foxes, are thought to have a devastating impact on populations of small native animals in parts of the Australian bush. But the future may be even bleaker with a larger and more ferocious breed of cat, known as the Savannah, expected to be introduced into Australia in the next five years.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

“More than 30 savannahs – which cost $5000 for a pet and $10,000 for a breeding animal – are expected to come to Australia in the next five years, with up to 16 now in US quarantine.

“Hybrids of wild animals and domestic animals are a stupid American trend to breed more and more exotic pets,” said Professor Peacock, who works at the University of Canberra.

“This loophole will effectively lead to fitting a nuclear warhead to our already devastating feral cat population. Haven’t our native animals got enough to contend with?”

“Mr Parker dismissed suggestions that the animals could threaten native wildlife, saying they would not be allowed to roam. The company demands that customers sign a contract stipulating specific housing arrangements.

Read more here.

12 Responses to Potentially Even Bigger Feral Cats to be Imported into Australia

  1. Jan Pompe June 17, 2008 at 1:21 pm #

    I’m with Professor Peakock on this one.

  2. Libby June 17, 2008 at 2:40 pm #

    More at
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/06/13/2273330.htm

    $5,000-$10,000 would be useful for a pebble mound mouse or Gilbert’s potoroo project.

  3. spangled drongo June 17, 2008 at 2:57 pm #

    These animals are reputed to be able to leap 2 metres into the air and bring down a large bird yet they are regarded, import wise, as a domestic cat.
    When the act was drafted, no one expected this.
    It needs some quick and decisive action by politicians.
    [or is that an om]

  4. spangled drongo June 17, 2008 at 4:23 pm #

    we all need to make submissions to our Fed and State pollies on this one.
    I believe in Qld it comes under the DPI legislation [Tim Mulherin minister] and Federally probably Peter Garrett.
    I’ve just sent submissions.

  5. spangled drongo June 17, 2008 at 4:37 pm #

    This morning, after years of regen in a ferntree gully I had an Albert’s Lyrebird giving his territorial call there for the first time.
    I had the god-like feeling that I had regenned a lyrebird.
    Oh,well!
    Cat’s meat for Savannahs or what?

  6. Doug Lavers June 17, 2008 at 5:35 pm #

    If any one is expecting Peter Garrett to do something about these cats, I suggest this is optimistic.

    Anyhow, its too late. A few years back I read somewhere of a 15 kg tom being shot in the outback. With selection pressure heavily favouring larger animals, I would suggest Oz will harbour its own puma variants in a few decades.

  7. spangled drongo June 17, 2008 at 6:46 pm #

    Not too late Doug, these cats weigh up to 50 lbs. [my cattle dog doesn’t weigh that much]
    They would be capable of killing almost any native animal.

  8. Ian Mott June 18, 2008 at 1:33 pm #

    But didn’t I hear Tim Flannery calling for the reintroduction of a large predator to “restore the balance” in Australian ecosystems?

    And he must surely be right because he is, after all, Gaia’s prophet here on earth, isn’t he?

  9. yorkie June 18, 2008 at 3:14 pm #

    About 5 years ago I was walking in an open eucalypt woodland about 100 ks from Perth. All of a sudden my dog, who had been fossicking around enjoying herself, began a mad barking. I investigated and found she had treed a feral cat. This animal was an ordinary tabby but huge, about the size of a spaniel or a small kelpie. I thought it must have been a freak, but on checking with a wildlife biologist I discovered that Australia’s feral cats have been getting significantly bigger over the last 15 years as they become more dominant as predators, and as the bigger males become more successful breeders. Feral cats in WA have benefited greatly from a successful fox-control program, with the unpoisonable cats simply moving into the niche no longer filled by foxes. The end-point of this “natural” evolutionary process is frightening enough without the foolish introduction of an even larger animal into the breeding pool.

    Y

  10. Schiller Thurkettle June 22, 2008 at 3:54 am #

    Interesting topic!

    I have to wonder if the cost per animal might be exaggerated. There are *tons* of breeders of this sort of cat out there.
    http://www.savannahcat.com/public/index.php

    Including one in Queensland.
    http://www.savannahcat.com/public/index.php?page=detail&id=211&PHPSESSID=a165f5c1d5dd99f10bf32310022f8530

    These things get *huge* and breeders appear to be breeding for size.
    http://www.savannahcatbreed.com/
    Check out the one that’s 29 lbs. at 16 months!

    You can buy these cats online.
    http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/kittensavailable/

  11. Tony Peacock June 22, 2008 at 9:35 pm #

    Wild dogs in Australia have grown by 3 kg in the last 30 years due to hybridization. My worry is that serval genes will lead to bigger cats that are better hunters.

    The Minister has acted quickly and instigated a review – the draft risk assessment looks daming. But I reckon all hybrids need a look at – the same rules make it legal to bring a wolf0dog hybrid in, as long as it is five generations away from the wolf. It took thousands of years to domesticate animals, not a decade or two.

    Cheers

  12. Schiller Thurkettle June 23, 2008 at 8:59 am #

    Tony,

    Doesn’t the introduction of new things add to biodiversity? Sure, new things eat other things, but if you add enough new fauna and flora, Australia’s ecosystem could be far more diverse than ever before!

    Sure, Darwinian hurly-burly could prove that some plants and animals are outdated and uncompetitive, but–to coin a phrase–that’s life!

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